The End of an Era: Celebrating the Life of Yvette Samuels, Alpha Primary School’s Principal

The Alpha Primary School is mourning the loss of its beloved principal, Yvette Samuels, who passed away on March 19, 2024. Her passing has deeply affected the Mercy community which now strives to move on with grace while still remembering the love, warmth, and passion that Ms. Samuels has left in her wake.

Ms. Samuels joined the staff of the Alpha Primary School in 2002 as a class teacher as a result of her love for children and passion for education. Throughout the following 22 years, she went on to hold a variety of positions such as Guidance Counsellor, Vice Principal and, finally, Principal in 2017. As Principal, she aimed for the school to operate at the highest level possible; working towards big-picture goals while also paying close attention to the details. As Charles Arumaiselvam, Development Manager for the Sisters of Mercy of Jamaica, said at the school’s memorial for her, “She had a vision, but also she was very much attuned with everything that happened every single day.”

A mother of two, Ms. Samuels has been described as warm, friendly and selfless. However, perhaps one of the most remarkable things about her was her tendency to see the hidden potential of others and motivate persons to grow and develop their skills and character. While some children may have been written off as “bad students” due to their poor grades and behaviour, Ms. Samuels believed that they had the potential to overcome their challenges and achieve greatness, with the support of others. Her personal philosophy was centred around a quote by Edward Eggleston: “Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure”. Acting Principal, Okelo Francis, recounted that it was this quality, which led a group of past students to visit her earlier this year while bearing gifts and expressing their gratitude for her role in their academic journeys. 

“Ms. Samuels had a warm, caring, and dedicated relationship with her students and staff. She was a mentor, a guide, and a source of inspiration to her students. She fostered a sense of community which is evident in the success stories during her tenure.” 

– Alpha Primary School teacher.

Ms. Samuels’ ability to connect with and support others on a deeper level was formed, in part, by her background as Guidance Counsellor. As such, she prioritised the personal development of her students as much as she did their academic development. This was evidenced by her continuous promotion of the Mercy charism and core values; with her going on to establish the “Mercy Award” which identified the students who most embody the Mercy core values. Additionally, she spent a number of years serving as an instructor for civics education and character education prior to her appointment as Principal. Outside of school, her own personal values and strong moral character also shone through in her commitment to social outreach, which was particularly evident during her time as Director of the Kiwanis Club of South St. Andrew.

Another remarkable quality which Ms. Samuels possessed was her dedication to mentoring her staff. As with her students, she consistently expressed her belief in the abilities of her staff members and would encourage them to take on new challenges and growth opportunities. This penchant of building others up eventually led to her establishment of the school’s official mentorship programme. Aside from spurring on her staff to realise their own potential, Ms. Samuels also invested time and effort into her own self development. A lifelong learner, she continued her studies to expand her skill set while teaching at Alpha Primary and garnered a Bachelor of Arts in Guidance and Counselling; a Master of Science in Educational Leadership; and various professional certifications. This continual drive to improve herself in order to better serve the needs of her school community is what made her such an excellent leader.

Ms. Samuels with the Mercy Education Board and a student at Alpha Primary School.

It is clear that Ms. Yvette Samuels had a massive impact on the hearts and minds of the students and staff of the Alpha Primary School. For over two decades, she worked tirelessly to help to build the school into what it is today. In the words of Mr. Arumaiselvam, “Yvette Samuels will be irreplaceable.” Now, in the aftermath of her passing, the school community strives to honour her memory and follow her example by pushing themselves to achieve greatness, encouraging each other, and living out the Mercy charism daily.

“Ms. Samuels has left a lasting legacy at Alpha Primary School. As a nurturer, she instilled a love of learning, a strong work ethic, and a sense of social responsibility to not only the students but all staff members. Her commitment to education and  passion for teaching has inspired a generation of students, many of whom have gone on to become nation builders. Her legacy will  continue to inspire and motivate students, teachers and all the other stakeholders of this noble institution.”

– Alpha Primary School teacher.

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